How To Have A Hit Show


2018022420190824 (BBC7)

Maria Friedman - actress, singer and musical theatre director - explores the BBC archives to hear advice from the great songwriters of the past about How to Have a Hit Show.

The BBC archives teem with interviews with the great songwriters which were carried out for landmark series like "Ragtime to Rock'n'Roll" decades ago, but which have rarely had an airing since, apart from short snippets. All the songwriting greats are there- from early interviews with Rodgers and Hammerstein to Irving Berlin, Yip Harburg, Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman. More modern songwriters like Stephen Sondheim and many others also feature strongly. Recordings of the legendary song performers also abound - the great names who premiered the seminal show roles like Ethel Merman, and Mary Martin.

This special three-hour showcase compilation takes us through the journey of writing a hit musical show, from first thought to the final performance as seen through the eyes - and ears- of these great names.

Divided into different sections - The Idea, The Producer, The Songs, The Orchestrator etc - Maria uses the archives to take us on a journey which explores all the different facets of songwriting, promoting and plugging within the narrative of composing that one elusive hit show. With examples like Alan Jay Lerner describing how he sweated over one line in a lyric for two months, we provide a window into a creative world interwoven with music.

Maria will also re-introduce us to some standalone programmes featuring the great names of songwriting history and the musicals they created.

Producer: Emma Kingsley

Made for BBC Radio 4 Extra and first broadcast in February 2018.

Maria Friedman hears from the great songwriters of the past about How to Have a Hit Show.